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|Year and Month||November 2004|
|Number of Days||One Day Trip|
|Crew||8 (Age between 25-30)|
|Accommodation||It was almost a 24 hour trip, every one else slept in the jeeps except the two drivers!|
|Weather||It was bright and sunny in the morning, as the evening approached dark clouds covered the entire sky but it did not rain until about 7.00 p.m. When it started, it was raining cats and dogs though!|
|Route||Colombo -> Rathnapura -> Pelmudulla -> Thimbolketiya -> Udawalawe (Approximately 170km)|
|Tips, Notes and Special remarks||
|Related Resources||You can find for more information about Udawalawa National Park at Lakdasun forum, search using key words “Udawalawe” or “Udawalawa”|
It was a strenuous trip. Need not to say that drving 170km and back with more than 8 hours spent in the park made us spend almost 2 hours in the jeeps. Still it was fun and adventurous!
We left our homes quite early in the morning. The plan was to leave at 3.00 a.m. but by the time we left Colombo it was almost 3.30 a.m. We drove straight to Rathnapura on almost deserted roads. By 5.45a.m. we were at Rathnapura, on time to witness an amazing assembly of nature.
Right in the heart of Rathnapura town, an amazing gathering takes place every year during the bird migration season (October to April). Hundreds of thousands of swallows gather in every possible place they can land, to spend the night right in the city center. They must be repeating a generations old behavior, the only difference probably is the power lines replacing the tree that their ancestors used to gather on!
By 7.30 in the morning we were at Udawalawa. The early morning scenery from the bunt was spectacular. Passing the dam, we reached the park entrance before 8.00 a.m. as planned. We grabbed some breakfast from a small boutique, brought some bread for lunch before we entered the park just past 8.00 a.m.
It was a bright and a beautiful morning at Udawalawa. All around was green because of the inter-monsoon rain and we were on look out for elephants returning to their resting places after gracing for the whole night.
We drove around the park enjoying the natures true beauty. We came across few herds of elephants as well. More than the wildlife, it was the scenic beauty of the park that made us wanting to see more of it before the light become harsh.
We drove all the way up to the banks of the reservoir and it was really worth!
Around 10.00 a.m., as the light was getting harsh, we decided to drive towards the river where we plan to escape from the harsh sun, have lunch and relax a bit until it is late afternoon. We chose an interior trail hoping to explore more of the park.
In few minutes, we met a surprise road block. A huge elephant was right in the middle of the road, taking the shade of a lonely tree. He did not like our presence too much so we slowly approached it expecting it to move away from the road. It did as expected but made it very clear to us that we should not disturb it anymore by mock charging the jeep as we passed it!
Moving away from the jumbo, we ventured deep in to the park. There was a large herd of elephants relaxing in the shade of a large tree. Some of them were actually sleeping. The herd had created a ring around the tree, with the little ones in the middle.
During the rainy season, certain points in these interior tracks of the park turn in to mud pots. Passibg them can be difficult without a serious 4WD. So if you visit Udawalawa in a vehicle other than a jeep or a double cab during the rainly season, make it a point to stick to the main tracks.
Passing the obstacles, we reached the river by noon. On our way at several places we came across swarms of butterflies gathered on ground. This is a failry common site in the dru zone wilderness during this time of the year I guess.
After lunch and about an hour and a half of relaxing by the river, we started our return journey. There were many sigthings of elephants, now moving in to grass lands for gracing in the night as thunder clouds goatherd above us.
By 3.00 p.m. were back at the park entrance. On our way back we had to pull out a van which had got stuck in a weak point of the road. Leaving the park we raced to the elephant transit home, just few hundran meters from the park entrance, to see the feeding action. Even though I have seen it many times, it is always an enjoyable moment.
Leaving the elephant transit home, we started our journey back. We stopped at the Udawalawe dam to have a quick dip in the reservior. eventhouh it was only 4.00 p.m., the strom clouds has made the surroudnign drak and gloomy.
After a quick dip in the lake, we started the strenuous drive back to Colombo. With the thunder showers making it even harder to drive, we arrived in Colombo safe but tired just before the mid-night. So we concluded the trip in a day as planned!